America shouldn’t build a wall on its border with Mexico without conducting a cost-benefit analysis, U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro said Wednesday in a Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (HSGAC) hearing.
The head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) gave a one-word answer when Democratic Ranking Member and Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill asked if the federal government should begin constructing the border wall President Donald Trump promised without first weighing the costs versus benefits.
“No,” Dodaro said in the hearing on high-risk government program areas.
GAO — which audits executive branch programs at the request of Congress — has “definitely” never conducted a cost-benefit analysis for a wall, Dodaro said. GAO last reviewed the cost of a border wall in a 2009 report, estimating the federal government would spend about $6.5 million per mile along about 1,300 miles, Dodaro said.
But that estimate could be much higher now. The federal government also needs to factor in the cost or purchasing land, as most border property is privately owned, Dodaro said. DHS already built a wall along 650 miles of the 2,000 total border miles.
Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, estimated the wall will cost $15 billion at most, but some critics say that figure is low. (RELATED: Trump Is Laying The Groundwork For His Border Wall Behind The Scenes)
Dodaro, with an air of humor, told McCaskill it would be “difficult” for the federal government to build a wall without congressional appropriations. Trump and congressional Republicans indicated they may rely on an existing authorization — the Secure Fence Act of 2006 — to erect the wall, instead of enacting new legislation.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) management was one of 34 areas GAO identified in a report it released Wednesday as high risk. DHS oversees border issues through Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
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